Ahead of the game, up with the zeitgeist, and all at sea…

Today, Ed Miliband is launching an independent commission in to health and social care, premised around the need for integration and the idea that ‘services should be organised around the needs of patients rather than patients around the needs of services’. We appear to be ahead of the game in Wales on this one…
And all’s going wonderfully well with the Open Letter with around 250 signatures from individuals and organisations, and 24 letters of support from senior co-pro colleagues from USA, Australia, Scotland and England.
These make compelling (and cheery) reading, and reassert our pole position in the heart of the public services zeitgeist. Here is a small selection…
The delightful Eddie Bartnik (Mental Health Commissioner of Western Australia) writes:

I am pleased to offer my support for the campaign in Wales to embed co-production principles at the heart of new community services legislation. With a public sector experience of over 30 years in areas of disability, communities and mental health in Western Australia, and extensive consultancy work nationally in Australia and  in 9 countries, co-production has been a core foundation of the reforms which have had the most effective and sustainable outcomes.

I urge the government and community of Wales to seize this important opportunity to embed co-production principles into legislation and public services delivery and create a landmark foundation for more effective and stronger partnership between government, citizens and the community. Like the pioneering state of Western Australia, Wales has a magnificent opportunity to build a strong foundation for the future and to generate social capital and value rather than endless rationing of services.

If I can be of any assistance in taking this journey forward, I would be pleased to offer my support.

He’s coming over in September – I’ve promised him a pint and a rousing chorus of The Red Flag in four-part harmony. Offers from the other three parts gratefully accepted.

Philip Colligan of Nesta’s Innovation Lab is supporting us:

Co-production has deep roots in the mutual traditions of Wales that gave birth to the welfare state. It is an idea whose time has come. Nesta’s work over the past four years has identified examples of innovators across public services and civil society who are rethinking what they do and how they generate value through co-production. They start with the simple proposition that we should be organising public services with people rather than doing services to people, and they are achieving real impact.

Wales is home to many of these innovators and is well placed to lead the rest of the UK and the world in putting co-production at the heart of the next generation of public services.

From Scotland, Catriona Ness of NHS Tayside and the Scottish Co-production Network writes:

I’m delighted to endorse and support the work of Welsh colleagues on their journey towards public service reform [based on] the principles of co-production.

All in this together are champions for change in Wales. There is a robust evidence base, and the energy and enthusiasm to take these principles forward. I urge the Welsh Government to explore co-production concepts further, as we have done in Scotland as part of our Public Service Reform.

I commend this approach and warmly wish Wales every success in embedding the principles of co production within future reforms.

Sarah McDonnell of the Office of Public Management writes:

OPM fully supports the principles of reciprocity, mutuality and respect which are at the heart of co-production…

We support the aspiration to see these principles enshrined in public service legislation in Wales. By including these co-production principles in the Social Services and Well-being Bill, the Welsh Government would be making a powerful and historic commitment to embed co-productive approaches throughout public services in Wales.

And co-pro founding father & civil-rights lawyer Edgar Cahn offers unequivocal support (and plenty of compliments):
Time and again, Wales provides leadership to the co-production movement. You have been the flagship in defining the framework for transforming public policy…to address critical social problems. In an era when we are grappling with the cost of outsourcing the production of goods, Wales has pioneered co-production as a declaration: No more outsourcing what it means to be a human being.
In the past we equated ’empowerment’ with a few seats on governing boards…In Wales, the leadership has been the first to speak of a different kind of empowerment: the power to create relationships based on respect and mutual interdependence.
The economic pundits characterise the present as an era of obligatory fiscal austerity. For the rest of us around the globe who see a different possibility, Wales has led the co-production movement’s vision of abundance and equality made possible by enlisting the vast capacity in community as full partners in replacing the GDP with measures of well-being, creating an economy that values all its members as contributors, shareholders and stakeholders.
Don’t know if we are actually that good – but what a vision to aspire to! Makes me come over all aspirational and Liberty-leading-the-people-ish (but I’m keeping my vest on unlike the original). Let’s hope our Government feels the same way (but also with the vest-on proviso).
And finally, a change to the delivery date for the Open Letter since Noreen is stuck on the high seas (sailing her new home back from the south coast). And without her the Excel spreadsheet with all the signatures remains as impenetrable to me as advanced calculus
We are now sending it in on Wednesday 1st May.
We’ve been advised to maximise impact by copying it to all cabinet members, and to the leaders of all parties. Electronic and hard copies. So we will.
BBC Wales will be broadcasting a piece about the campaign on that date, and the Western Mail / Wales Online are running a feature. The Guardian is publishing a piece in next week’s Social Care Network newsletter  and the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) are featuring it as the ‘click on Wales’ piece on 30th April.
Plus we’ll put it on the All in this Together blog, on the national Co-production Practitioners Network, and on the Scottish Co-production Network.
Next week, please help us maximise publicity in every way possible – loudhailer, sandwich-board, letters to the press, blogs, websites, emails, tweets, carrier pigeon, youtube videos or just repeated rants in your local. Email your AM, or your councillor, or lie in wait for them by the wine section of the local supermarket.
This campaign could be the lever to transform public services in Wales and make Edgar’s vision a lived reality. Exciting times!
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About Ruth

UK National Teaching Fellow and Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University. Founder of Co-production Wales (All in this Together), co-pro trainer and consultant, working to make co-production 'the way we do things' in Wales. And having a ball!

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